Sunday, March 10, 2013
killing chickens, chinese new year, living breathing missionary work- February 11, 2013
sorry today's email is going to be a bit choppy. in honor of chinese new year our entire pday today was devoted to cleaning out our apartments.....we didn't even finish though we cleaned basically from dawn till dusk. you'll be happy to know that after hours of scrubbing i got all the grime off my bathroom floor and even the mold off the walls!!!! i feel so chinese. and very festive. it's a grand old time. also next week our pday will be on wednesday because monday we have another mission tour, two elders from the seventy are coming to speak to us! yaaaaay!!!!!
i have a story about boden. last week we had a zone training meeting and boden got a special shout out from his companion because one day they were riding their bikes and they rode past two teenage boys who were smoking. boden yelled in passing "you shouldn't smoke, it's bad for you!" and then they kept going. moments later they realized one of the boys was riding right behind them on his bike and at first thought maybe the kid was angry and was going to give them a piece of his mind. he rode up along side them and started talking to them. he said "i know smoking is really bad for me. i've actually been wanting to stop lately but i need help. i'm also really interested in your church." they gave him a baptism goal right then and there and added him as a new investigator. let me just tell you that bodie's sass and tenacity are making him a wonderful missionary. everyone in our zone just adores him.
as one of our recent converts sister xue keeps telling us, chinese new year is the most important holiday of the year for chinese people. they really go all out. the entire celebration lasts for nearly two weeks!!! last week to get the fun going sister l and i went to a less active sister's house to help her do some "cleaning" in preparation for the new year festivities (think of the way that old lady says it on groundhog day). when she called us a couple days before she said the words "la ji" and "sha ji" and asked us if we would be willing to help her with that. we both said yes without asking for clarification (neither of us knew what it meant but it's just cleaning her house so who cares, right? how bad could it be?) she laughed and said "really? great ok!" after we hung up we thought about the words "sha ji". i don't know a lot of chinese words.....but i know that the character "sha" comes from the the word "sha hai" which means "to kill". and the word "ji" means chicken. did she just ask us to help her kill chickens? noooo....no. that couldn't possibly be what she meant!!!
last thursday we biked up to the more rural part of D where a lot of mainlanders live. we saw sister xue washing some things outside and in my head i was secretly hoping it would be an abraham scenario where because we said we were willing to do it we wouldn't actually have to in the end. as we walked down to meet her we looked across the stream to see a little chicken habitat. an older man was squatting
down inside a pen. we couldn't see what he was doing but the chickens were shrieking in distress.
sister xue saw our faces (i didn't do very well at disguising my look of horror) and laughed. she asked us if we had ever done this before and we admitted that we hadn't. "that's ok! today you can learn!" she said. i was starting to freak out a little bit. i love sister xue and wanted to help her out....but at what COST??!??!!?! she laid a few pie tins out and filled them with rice (don't worry....you'll see why in a minute) and then asked us if we dare go across the stream. the stream is polluted and the bridge that went across to the chicken "coop" was like an old metal ladder type thing. it looked totally unstable. and waiting on the other side was a giant rottweiler who was hopping up and down and barking at us very angrily. every now and then the man would toss out a chicken that would land with a thud. they were still alive but their wings and legs were bound. sister xue asked us to carry the chickens over to her. they felt really heavy and i was worried they would start flinching madly while we were on the bridge and all of us would end up in the toxic river of death. once all the chickens had been carried over, sister xue went into her house and came back out carrying a butcher knife.
now things were getting serious. my companion started humming "i'll go where you want me to go dear lord" and i think it was to comfort me but it made me want to scream because it seemed so awful.
i'll spare you the rest of the details for now but just know it was a shocking experience. to make it easier to pluck the feathers out each dead chicken was doused in boiling hot water. i became numb as i pulled out the feathers. the old man was wheezing the whole time because he was working so hard. he was quite the picture in his flip flops, beanie hat, huge vest, and unintelligible commands to us every now and then. as we plucked the chickens i thought about how much i admired my ancestors...many of whom probably had to do wack stuff like this all the time to survive. i tried to imagine myself as katniss everdeen to make me feel cool and brave but it just made me very stone-faced.
as we were leaving, sister xue kindly invited us to stay for dinner. we really did have to go, but in my heart I was thinking, is that a real question?
it was quite the service project i'll tell ya what. maybe one day i'll fill in the blanks...i just don't have time today and i still want to tell you more about new year!!!
starting friday night, the incredibly generous members of the church have been inviting us over for meals everyday......we are completely booked for the whole week. each meal is enormous and extravagant. i haven't actually felt hungry for 3 days. they stuff us full and are so extremely hospitable....not realizing that a few hours later we will be having another meal. on saturday night we went to the chen family's house and got to eat with a lot of their extended family. it was so fun there were about 30 of us squished around two little tables in this tiny room. everyone got "hongbao" which are red envelopes with money inside. all the kids gave their aged step father a hongbao and he was extremely "buhaoyisi" and refused to take them and they had to be shoved into his hands and vest!!! it was hilarious. they even gave all the missionaries in my district a hongbao which we tried very hard to refuse. our mission president told us to just donate the money to the general missionary fund. these people really are so generous and everyone has been in such a good mood lately. total strangers walk up to us and give us little treats or invite us in to eat. at the end of the night brother chen said a prayer and said he was so thankful that we have the gospel in taiwan. it totally pierced my heart. i felt so happy to be here and to be doing the work i'm doing.
on sunday we only had church for an hour cause lots of people are traveling all over to visit their families. i was asked to share my testimony since i'm new in the ward. for some reason i got really nervous and i wasn't sure what i should say but i wanted it to be meaningful. there were only a few people there and i wanted really badly to strengthen them in any way i could and to help build their confidence in me. i was praying and praying to be guided to know what to say. as the sacrament was passed around the room i noticed a young woman who got baptized a few months ago who has some challenges in her life. against all odds she had made it to church and was sitting in the front row. i was so moved as i saw her very meditatively and purposefully take the sacrament. when i stood up to bear my testimony i talked about how grateful i am for the gift of agency. i said sometimes it is frustrating because people will use their agency to reject us but that through our every day choices, big or small, we can have a huge influence on the people all around us. i thanked them for using their agency to come to church that day and partake of the sacrament. my voice was shaky and the words i said were simple but as i was up there i felt like i was bursting with love for all the people in that room. i felt like i was almost like nephi of old (not quite uncle kimball status) but then throughout the rest of the meeting people referred to what i said and i knew God had given me the words and i just felt glorious.
ahhhhhhhhh there's so much more to tell you!!!!!! so so sorry i will have more time next wednesday.
happy love day, happy new year, happy livin!
love love love